1983: RCA PCD1-4917
This was the first of their albums I bought, the one that opened the door to all the rest as it arrived, with Sweet Dreams finally reaching me after Id been hearing Sweet Dreams and Love Is a Stranger for a year or two from odd sources (usually radio, though I cannot imagine which of my small hometowns few stations would ever have played either of those songs back then). My junior/senior-high best friend John is the one who introduced me to Eurythmics, actually, or at least was the one who played me the first thing I knew to be theirs; hed bought the 7" single of Here Comes the Rain Again and was playing it for me one day at his familys house, and I said something like well, thats nice, but whats on the other side of the 45? And he said it was some weird song, and played it, and that was when I heard Paint a Rumour and I knew I was hearing something fantastic, something unlike anything Id ever even imagined was out there, but something supremely musical, something that managed to be precise, fiery, vicious, mathematical, furiously raw, and deathly cool at the same time.
To this day, including the moment that I am writing this, 19 years later, I still rank Paint a Rumour as one of my absolute favorite recordings. Its all those things, still, and its the first way I really heard Annie Lennoxs voice, shifting as it does there between icy, knowing understatement (I could tell you something), dangerously calculated soulful fury (the alarmingly sustained fourths on the manic whoa, whoa, whoa unravelling), and machine-gone-feral, almost-girl-group, mock-call-and-response chirps that act more as deranged threat than as filler (promise not to sell). I absolutely cannot imagine a video for that song, but of course Im driven to distraction (when I think about it) to wonder what D&A would have done if theyd chosen to and the same goes for the idea of live versions of the song. (And of course I prefer the 12 ending to the standard release, because that extra handful of robotic rhythms really seals the song for me.) And I still wish fervently that Dave & Annie would break into the whoa, whoa, whoa sequence in concert sometime.
When I finally managed to buy a copy of Touch, it was after this incident and that of visiting Seattle, where I saw a record store on the Ave (University Way) that had an extensive window display featuring the albums brilliantly arresting cover. And, well, the rest is history occasionally indulgent history, but history nonetheless. From this point on I knew I was witnessing the creation of excellence on a scale I had never before imagined possible. And they have rarely given me reason to think they arent cooking up more of that. Its the kind of song I want to play for everyone I meet, so they can hear liquid magic in action .
As for the rest of the album, which after all precedes the one song that utterly seduced me, well, its fun. At the time I considered it very good, but the years since then have made me qualify my appreciation of Touch if only because the albums cleanliness sounds almost sterile in retrospect, given all the other sounds that have been conveyed even by this group alone its production is just too clean, even when Lennox is howling an arc of a note across a bitter musical landscape. The songs themselves are generally top-notch and solid material, and Dave & Annie have demonstrated that countless times in concert by turning the songs around and reinventing them independently of their original instrumentation and pace. Ive always wished they had released Cool Blue as a single, but then at the time the remix possibilities werent up to the potential of the song itself, I suppose .
I have a hard time with the actual hits from Touch because, as with many Eurythmics albums, I prefer the rest of the tracks to the singles. Here Comes the Rain Again never really touched me, though I appreciate it as a song (and theyve certainly recast it a few times, especially live, and in a lovely reduction for the Lily Was Here soundtrack). (Years after giving that track faint praise here, I will note that it presents an unusual sonic cocktail of musical eras simultaneously: 80s synths, 60s girl-group backup puffs, string-section seriousness that could be from the 70s or much earlier, and uniting all of that a melodic spine and vocal that trascends them all and just IS in its own right. Also, my favorite moment of the song is probably missed by nearly every other listener: as the final/closing chorus part begins, just after Lennoxs climactic vocal climb, theres a musical/sonic downpour for just a couple of seconds, part of it Lennoxs voice a beautiful and subliminal touch, as is the subtle use and withdrawal of the sixteenth-note hammerings evoking relentless wind-driven raindrops.)
Right By Your Side was a strangely fun exception to many rules, and Whos That Girl? was more fun from the context of its video than it was as the original recording (although drastic concert reworkings have made me rethink my stance on the song at least). But really the B-side of that albums single is where the serious meat is. The seventh track, Aqua, is the kind of thing I wish musicians nowadays would concoct, and it just tastes better every time I listen to it; that quasi-tribal chant under what I guess must be considered the choruses is wondrously primal yet so artistic the kind of thing that makes me wonder what Eurythmics could have concocted for a score of Fellinis Juliet of the Spirits (which Dave Stewart noted was a film they would like to have scored).
But, to get back to Paint a Rumour, I want to note that its a mighty and dark counterpart to the albums opener, Here Comes the Rain Again, not in being lighter (quite the opposite) but by being machine-driven in sound rather than melodic, and that those two presentations come from the same duo on the same album is a great indicator of their duality of light/dark and range of passion. Paint a Rumour also introduces a fascinating touch, perhaps ironic on D&As part, of randomized electronic chirpsfirst as a sonic swipe for foreboding effect, in a flitting but unmissably disturbing moment in the second verse. That the tracks long playout devolves for a while into what sounds like a conversation between two computerized units gets its first hint there is just one reason I fell in love with this track right away.
Promise not to sell .
Comments © 20052017 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.